Laws and regulations are ever changing. As a small business owner, it is critical to keep up to date on the continuous changes in legislation. Failing to comply with State and Federal laws can result in a change in a company’s legal status – which can make the business vulnerable, incur fines, and could ultimately end up with the business being dissolved.
Laws and regulations seem to go hand in hand; however, there is a difference between the two.
Laws – created when a written statute is passed by the U.S. Congress or state legislature.
Regulations – standards and rules that are adopted by administrative agencies that govern the enforcement of laws.
One of the most valuable assets to a business it its employees. Understanding current national trends and local changes with labor laws can help a business owner be a better employer. Employees will have questions on current / future policies and laws. The more educated on trends in legislation – specifically labor laws – and common human resource topics a business owner is, the better they can assist employees with their questions and concerns.
The best way to stay in compliance with Federal and State laws – continuous research. There are laws and regulations for nearly everything. Broaden the scope by focusing on the specific laws that would relate to the business – for example: labor laws.
Key Trends to Keep an Eye out for
Although we cannot see into the future, based on recent hot topics, we can predict which trends might be worth keeping an eye on in 2019.
1. Minimum Wage Increases
Already in 2019, 20 states have increased their minimum wage rates. These increases are a result of legislation that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
What to watch for: States that adopt increased minimum wage rates and minimum wage changes in legislation.
2. Overtime Rule
The Department of Labor proposed a rule in March of 2019. The current law states that any employee with a salary below $455 weekly or $23,660 annually, must be paid overtime for additional hours worked over 40 per week. The proposed law would move the salary level to $47,476 annually, which would more than double its current level. This would make over one million American workers now eligible for overtime pay. There has been anticipation over whether the overtime rule will be issued.
What to watch for:New developments made with the overtime rule proposal.
Paid Family Leave
Paid Family Leave is a topic that has continued to constantly come up in recent months. Both parties have discussed introducing new legislation on the topic this year. There are some organizations that currently enforce paid family leave. The trend is likely to increase over time – some presidential candidates have added the topic to their campaign platform. Statistics show that 80% are in favor of paid family leave for new mothers – 70% in favor of paid family leave for new fathers.
What to watch for: The paid family leave administration will continue to become more complex as policies change. Staying up to date on state legislation surrounding parental and medical leave trends will provide a better understanding.
This topic was hot in 2018 which created more awareness on the issue. According to the Census Bureau, on average, women make 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes. This gap only increases for minorities. To decrease and ultimately close the wage gap, more states are starting to make changes in the workplace. Some states are making it illegal to ask candidates about their previous pay history during the interview process.
What to watch for: Changes in legislation that will impact the business. Stay up to date on current trends to keep business practices in line with ever changing laws and policies.
Marijuana Laws and Drug Testing Policies
Today the use of marijuana is legal for medical use in 34 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace for all employees, all while balancing the new laws surrounding marijuana use. Although the use of marijuana has been legalized in over half of the states, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Federal Government – meaning that marijuana is still considered to be an illegal drug.
What to watch for:Specific marijuana testing laws in the workplace. Each state addresses this issue in a different way. Some allow for the employer to maintain a marijuana-free workplace. The coverage of the workplace marijuana laws is applicable to medical marijuana use only – giving little to no protection for employees who use marijuana recreationally.
Dedicate the time to develop a thorough understanding of current national trends, what’s new in legislation and most importantly, the local changes that affect the business directly. These tasks traditionally fall into a Human Resource manager’s scope. Some small businesses may not have a dedicated Human Resource manager on the team. In these cases, it is even more important for the business owners to follow and keep up with changes.
You Aren’t Alone
Keeping up with the legal side of a business is a lot of work. Researching new bills, new changes and additions to laws takes time – time that many small business owners don’t have. Staying in compliance with laws and regulations is not something a business can afford to push to the side. Outsourcing these intensive tasks helps to free up the valuable time of the business owner and their employees.
Focus OneSource is Iowa’s only domiciled PEO. With Focus OneSource as part of the team, small business owners are able to get back to work. Our model allows for the administrative tasks to be taken off the plate of the business owner. With our expertise, we are able to keep the business in compliance with all Federal and State laws.
Marketing & Wellness at FocusOne Source